Cast & Crew
The happy marriage of John Trott and Tilly Whaley is ended by Tilly's father when he learns of the notorious reputation of John's "mother." Because John assumes that Tilly, who was taken home by Mr. Whaley, left of her own accord, he leaves the small North Carolina town to work in the city. John becomes successful and wealthy, while Mr. Whaley prevails upon Tilly, who believes that John died in a train wreck, to marry Joel Eperson. While visiting Ridgeville John finds that Tilly's thoughts are still of him, but he decides to depart gracefully. Joel also perceives what his wife really wants, and he commits suicide. John and Tilly are reunited with everyone's blessings and with the new knowledge that Liz Trott is not related to John in any way.
Love Never Dies
In the small Southern town of Ridgeville, Liz Trott (Claire McDowell) is a notorious good time girl who with her friend Jane Holder (Winifred Greenwood) keeps late hours entertaining gentleman. Her bad behavior extends to the secret she keeps, that she is not the real mother of John Trott (Lloyd Hughes), an ambitious young man who would have the world at his fingertips if not for his mother's bad reputation.
On business in a neighboring town, John meets the lovely daughter of a respectable family, Tilly Whaley (Madge Bellamy), and woos her away from her home. The two marry and move back to Ridgeville into a dream cottage to begin their new life together. But it's not long before Tilly learns about Liz from John's mischievous, freckle-faced little sister Dora (Julia Brown). Tilly is saddened by the news, but determined to stand by her husband. Tilly's father has other plans, however, and flies into a rage when a gossipy former flame of Tilly's, Joel Eperson (Joe Bennett), tells him about the notorious Liz.
In typical melodrama fashion, thunderstorms, train wrecks, deadly waterfalls, horrible misunderstandings, secret children, angry lovers and suicide all work to keep Tilly and John separated in an ever-escalating catalogue of misfortune.
Love Never Dies was an early entry in Vidor's film oeuvre that focused on suffering individuals trying to find their way within harsh circumstances. While Vidor's heroes in The Crowd (1928) and The Big Parade (1925) were individuals removed from familiar, comfortable surroundings, and coping with their sudden irrelevance and anonymity in the larger scheme of things, Love Never Dies dealt with a different phenomenon: an individual suffocated by small-town life and the ruinous influence of his mother. Ironically, the mother in Love Never Dies was played by Claire McDowell, a veteran of the stage and a noted leading lady in D.W. Griffith's films from 1910 to 1914 who returned to acting in 1917, after a brief absence, to play maternal types. McDowell also appeared as the devoted mother who begs her son not to go off to war in Vidor's war epic The Big Parade.
Love Never Dies continued Vidor's interest in the theme of personal sacrifice, evident in the dramatic boat race at the film's conclusion and the heroic gesture John makes to save his romantic rival Joel.
Love Never Dies was one of eight films made by Vidor's own production company, Vidor Village, a small studio not unlike those founded by Chaplin and Griffith. It is not one of Vidor's better known, or more representative films, and seems more typical of the overblown conventions of early silent film melodrama than an original Vidor creation.
Producer/Director: King Vidor
Screenplay: King Vidor, based on the story "The Cottage of Delight" by William Nathaniel Harben
Cinematography: Max Dupont
Cast: Lloyd Hughes (John Trott), Madge Bellamy (Tilly Whaley), Joseph Bennett (Joel Eperson), Lillian Leighton (Mrs. Cavanaugh), Fred Gamble (Sam Cavanaugh), Claire McDowell (Liz Trott), Winifred Greenwood (Jane Holder)
By Felicia Feaster